How to Prepare Your Home to Sell for the Highest Price

Getting ready to sell your home? Not properly preparing your home to sell could cost you thousands of dollars. So before you put your house on the open market, it's time to put on your "Buyer Hat" and look at your property like it is the first time you've walked in the door.

Investing some time and effort to prepare your property will not only help your home sell for the highest price, it will also increase the likelihood of receiving offers in less time. Homes that lack the proper preparations often sit on the market for extended periods of time, resulting in lower sales prices. Following this guide to make sure your home is ready to sell for it's highest price.

Find a Great Real Estate Agent

Think you can sell your home your yourself and save the money you would have spent paying an agent? The numbers are in... and yes it's likely a bad idea that could lead you to sacrifice both time and money. A recent study found that the national average sales price of a for sale by owner property was 30% less vs agent represented properties according to the National Association of Realtors®. When a property is for sale by owner, buyers' agents know there will not be a professional colleague on the other end of the transaction and will likely not want to show your property to their clients as a result. Selling a home is a complicated full-time job that should be left to a professional.

You'll need to hire a great real estate agent to sell for the highest price in the shortest amount of time. The best agents provide local housing expertise and understand fair market value. They will competitively price your home, aggressively market the property, conduct open houses, screen buyers, negotiate the best terms, coordinate paperwork, pick up any loose ends, the list goes on... and on...

Consider Your Curb Appeal

The first part of your home a buyer will see is the front exterior, and yes buyers do tend to judge a book by it's cover. Fixing up your landscaping or repainting your door could leave buyers wanting more as they approach your home. If you live in a condo or multi-family home, make sure the common areas are tidy and neat so buyers aren't bombarded with last weeks grocery coupons or your neighbor Larry's amazon packages.

Declutter & Depersonalize

Less is more when it comes to getting your home ready to sell. Make sure your counter tops, closets, drawers and cupboards are clutter free and tidy. When buyers look around your home they will want to visualize their belongings in it. Overflowing closets and cluttered tables give buyers a false sense of space. If you have a substantial amount of clutter and you are not interested in getting rid of some of your belongings, you may want to consider getting a storage space until your home sells.

While you declutter, you'll also want to make sure you depersonalize your home. That means put away all the family photos and mementos. You want buyers to be able to visualize themselves and their family living in the property. Not to mention when a buyer looks around your home you want them to be able to take in all of it's beauty. When a buyer enters your home, do you want them to focus on your stunning wood burning fireplace or Jimmy's 3rd grade soccer photo sitting on the mantel?

Repaint Walls (Keep it Neutral)

Repainting walls will bring your home back to life and leave a pristine feel to your home. You'll want to make sure you choose a neutral color though. Often sellers ask "Well I think the buyers would love this red wall, why would I change it?". The answer is simple, you might love that bright red wall but if it's your buyer's least favorite color, that could be a turnoff. Have you ever heard of someone looking at a nicely painted white wall and say "I hate that color"? Likely the answer is no. Painting your walls a neutral color will allow your prospective buyers the opportunity to envision what the walls would look like with the color of their choice, not the color that they hate. If you painted the home within the past year or two, make sure to touch up any scuff marks on baseboards, walls and doors to make the house shine.

Fix Any Loose Ends

Every little detail can hinder a buyer's interest in your property. Small fixes like tightening the door knobs and light bulbs can go a long way. If a buyer uses a loose door knob while looking at your home, it will leave them wondering what else is broken.

Add Plants

Literally adding life into your home. Adding plants to your home will create a warm, welcoming environment for prospective buyers. Fill in your empty corner or add a plant near a feature of your home that you want buyers to really notice. You may even want to consider adding a bowl of fruit or a fresh bouquet of flowers to the dining room table.

Conduct Third Party Smell Test

This should be a no-brainer for most, however some of you might be asking why it says "third party smell test". The simple answer is... our noses adjust to smells. Invite a friend over to your home and ask their honest opinion on the scent as they walk in the door. Just because you don't smell anything when you're in your home, guests may be exposed to the likes of smelly dog dander and other underlying smells that may be lurking. And no, candles or sprays won't do it. Buyers are often curious if you are trying to cover another smell when they see lit candles or smell air freshener when walking into a home. Some may argue with me on this one, however I've seen it first hand. Getting a guest to provide you with their honest opinion is your best option for making sure your home passes the infamous "Smell Test".

Give Your Home Some Flow

When buyers enter your home, you can expect them to enter just about every room. Make sure that while they are walking around there is a smooth flow. You don't want your buyers bumping into furniture or tripping over your son's roller-skates while they tour your home. Do your own walk through, as if you were a new buyer. Make sure to fix or get rid of anything that interrupts the "flow".

Make Your Bathroom a Spa

Forty dollars could go a long way for your bathroom. A few fancy, nicely folded wash cloths tied with ribbon, matching bathmats and towels will create a relaxing, luxurious feel to your bathroom.

Give Each Room a Purpose

Many people have the so called "multi-function" room that operates as an office, home gym and guest room simultaneously. This will not help sell your home unless you show buyers how they can use it themselves. Pick one function of your multi-purpose room and clearly arrange the space to showcase that purpose.

Consider Staging

There are dozens of reasons why you should stage your home, however the number one reason is that you'll increase the likelihood of getting it sold. A study by the National Association of Realtors® shows that 77% of buyers said staging a home made it easier for them to visualize the property as a potential future home.

Given your agent will determine your property's fair market value, staging gives the impression of a well-maintained home and will help you justify the asking price. Buyers are not only influenced by the numbers, they're also be influenced by their emotions. You can have a leg up on competing homes in your neighborhood with clean, comfortable staging. Chances are prospective buyers have seen other homes before they've visited yours and are likely to view more after they leave. How does your home stand out from the rest?

A major component of staging is space, and a professional stager will actually make your home seem larger than it actually is. Once the clutter is gone, a stager can arrange furniture in a way that maximizes usable space within the home and will provide a proper "flow".

Not only does staging give the appearance of better value, it's proven to get homes sold in less time. Studies from the Real Estate Staging Association found that staged homes spent 72% less time on the market. When selling a property your goal should be to sell it as soon as possible and for the highest price possible. Was your neighbor able to put his home under agreement in less than a week, while yours is still sitting on the market? Take a look at the listing photos of your neighbor's property. Did they stage the home? The longer a home stays on the market, the less chance it has of being sold. You will increase your chances of selling for the highest price, in the shortest amount of time if you stage your home before it is listed on the market.


Ready to prepare your home to sell, but worried about the upfront costs?

At Compass we've developed a innovative program called Compass Concierge. This program offers services exclusively to Compass clients to cover the upfront costs associated with preparing your home to sell. Our team will develop a tailored project plan with suggested home improvements and updates to prepare your home for the market. We'll cover the upfront costs of cosmetic improvements such as deep cleaning, cosmetic renovation (cabinetry, lights, windows, counter-tops, floors), decluttering, landscaping, painting (interior and exterior), staging, pest control, and custom closet work. With Compass covering your upfront costs, all you have to focus on is your next chapter.

Interested in selling your home and want to learn more about the program?

Reach out for a high-level overview: 508.525.9990 or